“We discovered a place that was just absolutely gorgeous and surprising because they’re English-speaking communities, lost almost in the middle of nowhere at the complete eastern end of Quebec,” says Leroux-Lévesque.
“This place is really unique and beautiful, and we connected easily with the people. We decided we had to tell the story of the youth who basically have to go away after high school because there’s no post-secondary education there. Then it’s hard for them to come back.”
Rist notes the challenges on the Lower North Shore are specific to those communities but also shared by other rural areas in Canada and elsewhere. “It’s a universal issue of rural and remote communities that are dependent on one industry; how do these communities survive and can they survive?”
A longstanding partnership
Benziane’s Nitrate will have its world premiere on the festival’s opening night. Nitrate is a short film about the shared experience of refugees in Montreal struggling to fully enjoy the city’s summer fireworks. It was made as part of the Regards sur Montreal film residency program.
Legault’s Sisters: Dreams & Variations, which depicts the creative worlds of two artists with Icelandic roots, is part of New Visions, a competition for first features in the festival’s Canadian program.
As a long-time festival partner, Concordia itself has connections to RIDM aside from its alumni. The university’s Sir George Williams University Alumni Auditorium will show RIDM’s official opening and closing films — Beniamino Barrese’s The Disappearance of My Mother on November 14 and the Canadian film Drag Kids, by Megan Wennberg, on November 23.
RIDM also partners with Cinema Politica, which hosts weekly screenings of independent political films at Concordia with discussions afterward. This year Cinema Politica will screen RIDM films Conviction, which asks four female prisoners in Nova Scotia to imagine how to best support society’s most vulnerable members and break the cycle of conviction and recidivism.
It will also show No Gold for Kalsaka, which documents an environmental disaster connected to a Burkina Faso gold mine.
“It’s exciting for the university because it always provides a buzz to have great Montreal cultural events like this here,” says Mandi Morgan (BFA 10, GrCert 16), booking coordinator for Concordia Cinemas.
She adds that Concordia’s involvement with the festival — and the number of alumni who screen each year — can be inspiring for current students.
“It encourages those in the film program. Being an alumna myself, it’s very exciting to see my colleagues work together and create projects.”
Check out the full 2019 RIDM program. Concordia faculty and students can get a discount on film packs for the festival.